HIAS Pennsylvania

Providing legal and supportive services to immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers from all backgrounds in order to assure their fair treatment and full integration into American society.

Philadelphia Bar Foundation Grant Impact

The Philadelphia Bar Foundation's support has been critical in supporting HIAS Pennslyvania's mission of providing free legal assistance to low income, extremely vulnerable immigrants. The Bar Foundation's funding supports the work of HIAS's staff in providing representation to close to 400 immigrants per year who are in desperate need of HIAS's help to ensure that they can work, raise their children, and live safe from violence, abuse and fear.

Summary List of Programs and Services

1.Refugee Resettlement Program:

This program provides case management to newly arrived refugees with the goal of early integration and self-sufficiency. Many of the refugees have lived in camps, have few possessions and their arrival in our region is their first interaction with complex urban industrial society. We therefore provide case management and extensive cultural orientation including financial literacy classes, medical case management services and some limited employment assistance and referral. This program has three initiatives: Refugee Resettlement, Refugee Post Resettlement and ESL.


a. Refugee Resettlement. This is the core initiative of the Refugee Resettlement Program. We find housing for refugees, and furnish their new apartments, meet them at the airport upon their arrival in the United States and get them settled in their new home. We pick them up on their first full day in the United States and bring them to our offices to begin the process of getting them enrolled in Medicaid, ESL classes and provide them financial literacy training. We assist them with connecting to employment opportunities. We take them to their first doctor’s appointments and ensure that their basic needs are met during their first ninety days in the United States.

b. Post Resettlement Program We have some limited funding to continue providing case management services to refugees. Those services fall into two categories: employment-related, for employable adults, and safety net related for particularly vulnerable refugees with serious physical and/or mental health needs. Those refugees that are eligible continue to receive services for up to twelve months.


c. Our ESL program provides after school ESL programming for mixed aged group refugee children in the Northeast and ESL programs for adults at the Jewish Federation building downtown. Through one full-time teacher and volunteer assistance, we are able to provide frequent instruction throughout the school year and summer. We also have a volunteer tutoring program where we provide one-on-one tutoring for children and adults with special needs.


2.Immigration Legal Services:

This program provides direct representation to low income individuals on a broad range of immigration legal matters. It focuses particularly on vulnerable immigrants and has four special initiatives: Immigrant Youth Advocacy (IYA), Interpersonal Violence (IV), the Philadelphia Partnership for Resilience (PPR), and Latino Outreach and Immigration Services (LOIS).        


a.Immigrant Youth Advocacy attorneys provide direct representation to youth who reside in Pennsylvania, training and educational support services to attorneys and Judges in Pennsylvania working with immigrant youth and the attorneys and social workers provide information, advice and referral services to you who are temporarily sheltered in Pennsylvania but ultimately move to reside elsewhere in the U.S.

b. Interpersonal Violence attorneys assist women and other survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking or other forms of persecution.

c.The Philadelphia Partnership for Resilience provides comprehensive mental health, case management and immigration legal services to refugee and immigrant torture survivors. We work with lead agency Nationalities Services Center by providing the legal service component.


d.The Latino Outreach Immigration Services initiative involves “on-site” consultations and immigration legal services in Spanish to isolated immigrant Latino communities in Norristown and South Philadelphia.

3. The Asylee Outreach Program(AOP): 

This program provides legal services on a broad range of immigrant matters for asylees and their families and also provides social services to this population. The social service component, similar to the services provided in our Refugee Resettlement Program, includes case management services with a focus on self-sufficiency and extensive cultural orientation.


4. Citizenship Assistance Program(CAP):

This program provides direct representation to refugees and immigrants, particularly the elderly and the disabled, who are seeking to naturalize. In addition CAP representatives work in collaboration with other agencies to provide citizenship and ESL classes to prepare applicants for the exam. The Philadelphia Citizenship Action Network (P-CAN), which is part of the CAP, is collaboration with seven other area non-profit agencies to provide educational services to immigrants and refugees who want to become citizens. Specifically P-CAN provides information sessions to all immigrants and refugees interested in becoming citizens, Citizenship Instruction Classes in different sites all over Philadelphia with special extended classes for Seniors and free or reduced fee application assistance for those who qualify to apply for citizenship.

Summary List of Priorities for Client Intake

In accordance with our programs and initiatives specified above. Our focus, with respect to legal services, is low income and particularly vulnerable immigrants.